Blue State Red State

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Trust Gaps

The DLC has released an analysis of what they believe were the mistakes made in the election. Here are some excerpts that serve as an interesting starting point to move on from:

"We have no easy excuses for this defeat. Democrats had a smart, tough candidate at the top of the ticket, and superior candidates all across the country. We had plenty of money, the best organization of our lifetimes, extraordinary enthusiasm, and greater unity than at any time in living memory. Democrats faced a vulnerable incumbent with a bad record who deliberately abandoned the political center, and whose case for a second term was constantly undermined by the consequences of his failures as displayed on the nightly news. And his party produced a do-nothing Congress with no accomplishments worth running on. Ralph Nader was an electoral cipher. It's hard to ignore the basic problem: We didn't effectively make the case for firing the incumbents and replacing them with Democrats."

"The dynamics of this campaign have confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Democrats suffer from three persistent 'trust gaps' in our message."

"The first 'trust gap' was on national security... while [Kerry] convinced Americans we would be smarter on national security, he could not overcome the party's reputation for being weaker, and that was a deal-breaker for many voters who didn't want to take any chances with their security. In other words, Bush didn't pay the ultimate price for his foreign policy failures because we couldn't put to rest doubts about Democrats."

"The second obvious problem for Democrats was a 'reform gap...' While Democrats did made a strong negative case against Bush, we never conveyed a positive agenda for reform."

"The third 'trust gap' that hurt Democrats was another hardy perennial: values and culture."

"The problem is that many millions of voters simply do not believe that Democrats take their cultural fears and resentments seriously, and that Republicans do."

"Dial Down The Mockery"

Kevin Drum, over at Washington Monthly's Political Animal offers some guidance on how we should approach the post-Election division:

"We didn't lose the election by much, and there are plenty of red staters who aren't extremists. They're the ones who are uncomfortable with homosexuality, but understand that a steadily increasing acceptance of gay rights is probably inevitable. They don't want to ban abortion, but feel like it's common sense to require parental notification. And they're ready to agree that we need to do something about global warming, but that doesn't mean they take kindly to thinly veiled accusations that they're personally responsible for it just because they drive an SUV or eat a Big Mac.

"In other words, they disagree with us, but not so much that they can't be brought around or persuaded to vote for us based on other issues. Too often, though, a visceral loathing of being lectured at by city folks wins out and they end up marking their ballots for people like George Bush.

"So maybe we should knock it off. I know it's fun, but most of the time it's pointless and misguided — and it costs us elections and prevents even modest progress on issues we care about. That's a high price to pay for a bit of fun.

"And the best part is that it doesn't infringe on our core values at all. We don't all have to start quoting scripture, we just have to dial down the mockery a notch. Why give the Republicans bulletin board material, after all?"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Red State + Blue State = Purple Nation

For all this talk the past couple of days of Red States and Blue States, I think this map helps to keep things in perspective.

Yes, we're still a country divided, but state boundaries are artificial. There were not two separate elections on Tuesday-- one Democratic and one Republican. There was one election. It's easy to say you disagree with a whole state and lots of people will try to use the Electoral College to justify this, but it just isn't so. For the most part, no matter how you voted, you disagree with a slight majority in some states and slight minority in others. And even at that, unless you're at the extreme of either side, it's probably true that a good number of those people you disagree with are much closer to your positions than you may feel right now. They just happen to be right on the other side of the divide. The thing to do now is not feel alienated and not alienate. We have to reach out and try to make people understand our values and, instead of chastising others for theirs, try to engage them civilly in a discussion about where to go from here.

Rudy for Justice or Security?

Daily Kos reports that rumors are flying about Rudolph Giuliani possibly replacing John Ashcroft as Attorney General or Tom Ridge as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Pleas For People

Bull Moose makes a call for the media to do its job as the second Bush term gets under way:

"With conservative Republican margins strengthened and hubris riding high in the G.O.P. saddle, we will need the fourth estate as never before to serve as the public's watchdog. Watchdogs yes, lapdogs, no!"

He also calls on Democrats to begin embracing the faith of the people who overwhelmingly turned out in the red states on Election Day:

"Even though Republicans are in political control, much of the country believes that liberals dominate our culture - and that it is deteriorating. Democrats need to spend less time in Hollywood and more time at Pentecostal prayer meetings. Too many Democrats scoff at President Bush's profession of faith. They snickered when then Governor Bush pronounced at one of the primary debates that Christ was his favorite philosopher. That may very well have been the moment when W. solidified his relationship with the religious conservatives - more important than his position on gay rights and abortion.

"Take it from the Moose - Mr. Donkey, your views on economic growth and health care access are not going to be heard unless broad swaths of America believe that you are one of them."